Safety Official Warns Hoverboard Users to Have Fire Extinguisher Handy

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By Devin Coldewey

Hoverboards may have been one of this holiday season's must-have gifts, but they've also been dogged by safety and quality concerns. Now, a federal safety official has gone so far as to recommend keeping a fire extinguisher around when you ride.

A number of the two-wheeled electric scooters have burst into flame while charging or during use, suggesting shoddy construction, low-quality batteries and other problems. Even sellers of hoverboards warn against knock-offs that use bottom-shelf components.

Related: U.K. Seizes More Than 15,000 Hoverboards at Border Over Fire Risk

"There are no safety standards for these self-balancing products. That is unacceptable," Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Elliot Kaye said in a statement Wednesday. "There are certain basic safety technologies we expect these units to have that should prevent overheating and potential combustion.

"Beyond the fire hazards, based on the increasing number of serious injuries and emergency room visits associated with these products, we are also expanding our investigation of the falls associated with hoverboards," Kaye wrote.

Related: Man Sues Hoverboard Maker Swagway Over Fire That Damaged His Home

A separate posting listed hoverboard manufacturers and distributors that the safety commission is actively investigating.

Kaye also complimented Internet retailer Amazon for voluntarily taking action. After pulling several brands from its site, Amazon now offers refunds on hoverboards. Kaye urged other retailers to do the same.

In the meantime, he suggested, owners should wear helmets, keep the device away from combustible materials, and "have a working fire extinguisher nearby."